ZAMBOANGA CITY: Three people were killed in a clash between military forces and suspected New People’s Army (NPA) rebels in Zamboanga del Sur on Tuesday.
Officials said fighting erupted in Supon village in Bayog town after patrolling soldiers chanced upon a group of NPA fighters, sparking a running gun battle.
Two rebels and a militiaman were killed in the encounter, and officials said troops recovered an M16 automatic rifle and anti-government propaganda, as well as a medical kit from the slain insurgents.
The bodies of the rebels were also recovered by soldiers.
The fighting occurred ahead of the resumption of peace talks this month between the Duterte government and National Democratic Front (NDF) leaders in Oslo, Norway.
There was no immediate statement from the NPA on the latest clashes, but it is unlikely to affect the resumption of the stalled peace talks.
Late last month, six policemen and two civilians were wounded in a suspected rebel attack outside a police station in Maasim town, Sarangani. The attack coincided with continuing military operations in the province – a known stronghold of insurgents in the troubled region.
Peace adviser Jesus Dureza held talks last month with NDF leader Jose Maria Sison in Oslo to discuss the resumption of stalled talks.
Dureza said the formal peace talks are expected to discuss the affirmation of previously signed agreements, the timeline of the talks, the reconstitution of the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees list, an amnesty proclamation for the release of all detained political prisoners and NDFP consultants, and the mode of the interim ceasefire, among others.